On Positive Development Forum


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Senate of the Philippines

30 May 2017

Good afternoon!  Warm greetings and thanks to the organizers of this Policy Forum on Positive Discipline.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and message of support for this endeavor, even remotely.

Parenthood is one of those life experiences that everyone knows of, but very few can honestly claim to be experts at. 

Even those who may have raised multiple children can hardly ever be sure if they’ve, quote-unquote,
“parented” properly until they have seen their children grow up from being adorably helpless, crying and giggling little balls of mischief and spittle into physically, emotionally and mentally healthy, happy, loving and productive human beings – who regularly practice good hygiene. 

As the saying goes, parenting was never meant to be easy, because if it were, it would not have started with something called “labor”.  As any of my fellow parents can attest to, parenthood is, indeed, work that requires patience, dedication, and a daily commitment to becoming a better parent… and it also involves taking a great deal of care – care not to do something that might permanently scar or damage your child – physically, emotionally and psychologically – while you are still in the process of becoming a better parent.  After all, parenthood is one of those undertaking where a parent’s mistake can turn out to be a child’s lifelong burden … or, worse, where there are mistakes or wrongful acts committed by a parent, the consequences of which can never be undone. 

I, therefore, send this message of support for today’s Policy Forum on Positive Discipline – not just in discharge of my mandate as a lawmaker to fulfill the State’s solemn pledge to “defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development”[1] – but also as a mother and a grandmother. 

It would have been my pleasure and honor to be with you today to share my own experiences, especially as a parent to two sons, one of whom is a very artistically gifted child, who happens to have autism.  They are two of my greatest accomplishments, and being a mother to both of them – with their own unique personalities, needs and capabilities – has fuelled my strong commitment to authoring and championing legislative measures that are geared towards upholding the rights and welfare of children, including the promotion of positive discipline.  A commitment that has not, and will not, waver, no matter my own personal circumstances at the moment.  For one does not and cannot stop being a parent, no matter what obstacles are put in one’s way.

For this, I commend my fellow parents and lawmakers, Senators Nancy Binay and Grace Poe, for their own initiative in filing bills on positive discipline that will institutionalize the protection of children against violence in various settings, and Senator Risa Hontiveros, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, for likewise championing the cause of promoting positive discipline. 

As some of you may know, there was a similar proposed legislation during the 16th Congress, and we now have, during this 17th Congress and starting with the efforts of four (4) women senators, a real opportunity to finally see real progress for this measure that seeks to flesh out the rights of children under our Constitution and under international treaties to which the Philippines is a party, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by among others, penalizing the infliction of corporal punishment, in response to studies that show that such forms of punishment have the deleterious effect on a child’s development.

One of the measures that I am particularly keen on, as expressed in the version of the bill that I authored, Senate Bill No. 1348, and which I hope the Committee will favourably consider, is the establishment of the “Philippine Model for Forensic Interview” for Children, to be used in corporal punishment cases and other types of abuse against children.  Having such a model is intended to ensure the collection of accurate information about such cases while, at the same time, ensuring that victims are not subjected to re-trauma in retelling their experiences.  It is this holistic approach to child abuse cases – which looks at the special needs of such incidents and those involved – that will hopefully concretize our collective aspirations for the betterment of our children.

Not many of us realize this, but this is a very timely endeavor. We need to take the time to nurture our own children – through positive means – now, more than ever.  After all, during these times when there seems to be a disturbing perception that a person’s life is worth a dime a dozen, when the taking of a life and the abuse of the vulnerable are taken so lightly that they are fodder for jokes – it is up to us, who still care for our children’s welfare and future, to find ways to combat the bad with the good.  

[1] Article XV, Section 3(2).

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